The Educational Research Institute is leading a project entitled “Developing organisational and financial models for including non-formal sector qualifications in National Qualifications Frameworks” (NQF-IN).
Visit the website of the project: www.nqf-in.eu.
The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) Recommendations, and other European Union (EU) strategic documents on Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Lifelong Learning (LLL) policies (e.g. Bruges Communique on enhanced European cooperation in VET, Education and Training 2020, Europe 2020), recommend that Member States implement overarching National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs). Two broad policy arguments and rationales are put forward in favour of NQF implementation and inclusion of the non-formal sector in relation to VET policies: First, NQFs give employers’ and workers’ organisations a more important role to play in VET reforms, especially in developing agreed learning outcomes for qualifications. They also place singular reform issues, such as standards, curriculum modernisation, assessment, and quality assurance in an overall comprehensive and consistent framework. Second, NQFs allow for cross-border understanding and recognition of qualifications, especially important for the EU Single Market and the developing European Area of Skills and Qualifications.
All of the member states declared their willingness to implement NQFs, and most have already presented referencing reports to the EQF Advisory Group. According to Cedefop (2015) –European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training – the first stage of EQF implementation is reaching its final stage. However, in most EU countries that have implemented an NQF, only formal qualifications can be referenced to it, while very few countries have introduced systemic solutions for the inclusion of non-formal qualifications, those attained outside of the school system (e.g. Scotland, Ireland, France). Europe is just now beginning to face the stage of implementing solutions to include non-formal qualifications in NQFs. It is envisaged that in the coming years, the inclusion of non-formal qualification will constitute one of most important topics in discussions on NQF implementation at the EU and national levels. Central issues in these discussions will consist of model solutions, the quality assurance of this process and its financial aspects.
The main goal of the NQF-IN project is to provide evidence based support to national governments, EU agencies and key stakeholders in developing policies on including non-formal VET qualification into NQFs. This will be done by (specific objectives):
- providing systematised knowledge on the organisational and financial solutions applied in seven EU countries on including non-formal VET qualifications into their NQFs,
- developing organisational and financial models related to the inclusion of non-formal qualifications to NQFs.
A case analysis will be prepared for each of the seven countries and consist of: (a) the main elements of the qualifications system and the role of the NQF, (b) institutional arrangements – the institutions responsible for NQF management, and the quality assurance of non-formal qualifications, (c) costs of including qualifications into the NQF, indicating who covers these costs, (d) the strengths and weaknesses of particular systemic solutions.
The organisational and financial models developed will include a description of: (a) institutional arrangements - their pros and cons depending on the goals set for the NQF, and the broad institutional context, (b) cost intensity – how cost intensive are the systemic solutions envisaged by the model, (c) recommendations on its financing, (d) “conditions of success”, i.e. which conditions have to be met in order for a particular model to work effectively within the national qualifications system.
We expect that better evidence based support for decision makers and stakeholders will provide more impetus and greater efficiency in NQF implementation and its opening to the non-formal sector, resulting in better VET and LLL policies within EU countries and at the EU level.
Eight major results will be achieved during this project:
- Nine intellectual outputs (IOs): the methodology of preparing country analyses (IO1), seven detailed country analyses (IO2-IO8), proposed organisational and financial models (IO9).
Based on these outputs, at least two articles will be published in scientific journals and five articles will be published about the project in national and international specialised media and EC portals. Two international conference discussion papers will be presented. By developing project outputs, as well as by conducting multiplier events and tailored dissemination activities, we will reach the entire population of our target group, which will enable us to:
- Provide evidence based support to national governments, EU agencies and key stakeholders in developing policies on including non-formal VET qualification into NQFs.
Better evidence based support for decision makers and stakeholders will provide:
- More impetus and greater efficiency in NQF implementation and its opening to the non-formal VET sector, resulting in better VET and LLL policies within EU countries and at the EU level.
The most important results of implementing overarching NQFs referenced to the EQF will be:
- The universal acceptance of learning outcomes as the primary point of reference in developing education and training programmes.
- The ability of European citizens to more easily obtain qualifications in ways, times and places that are more convenient to them.
- Enabling the reliable validation of learning outcomes acquired through non-formal and informal learning, and permeability.
- Increased reliability of VET qualifications and their labour market relevance.
- Increased recognition of the national VET certificates and diplomas in the country and abroad, and as a result, the development of the European Area of Skills and Qualifications.